Los Angeles residents will soon be able to travel by rail from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica for the first time since the 1950s. The CEO of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority recently announced that a new Metro service from West Los Angeles to Santa Monica will start on May 20, 2016.
The new line will extend the current Expo Line from Downtown L.A. to Culver City a further 6.6 miles west to Santa Monica Boulevard. The line’s 7 stops will bring passengers to such Los Angeles landmarks as the Westside Pavilion commercial center, the Bergamot Station Arts Complex, Santa Monica College, the Third Street Promenade district, all the way to the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean.
The journey from Culver City to the Pacific Coast is scheduled to take 46 minutes, with trains departing every 12 minutes. A one-way fare will cost a mere $1.75, according to a statement from the Metro.
With Los Angeles confronting ever-mounting congestion, the extension to the Expo Line could not come at a better time. For commuters, it means a faster, cheaper way to get to work. For visitors, the extension means a way to tour the City of Angels without getting stuck in its notorious traffic. The Expo Line already makes stops at some of the city’s major attractions like Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chinatown, the Staples Center, the National History Museum and the California Science Center, and the extension promises to be a further boon for L.A. tourism.
The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, for one, is betting the new line will make the city more appealing to visitors. The Board has already launched a “Car-Free L.A.” publicity campaign to call tourists’ attention to alternative modes of transport in the famously congested city.
The Expo Line extension is part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s project to make it easier to get around a sprawling city of 10 million inhabitants without a car. In early February, the Los Angeles International Airport commission announced a $5 million plan to add new rail connections and a people mover to LAX.
While train transport may seem like a revolution in a city so long ruled by cars, it used to be the norm rather than the exception. In the 1920s, Los Angeles was home to the world’s largest public transport system: the Red Car network. Operated by the Pacific Electric Company, the red-painted streetcars moved Angelenos across a rapidly growing cityscape until the early 1950s. Thanks partially to lobbying pressure from General Motors, the city paved over the rail lines in 1953, and the car has reigned over L.A. unchallenged ever since.
Although the old lines were paved over, the Metro retained the right-of-ways. The Expo Line from Downtown to Culver City was rebuilt in 2012, largely along the original Red Car lines. The extension opening in May is a first step toward reviving L.A.’s long-lost public transportation network and ending the city’s dreaded gridlock.
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(all data current as of 5/25/2017)
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